Redesigned Overlook Includes Enhancements to Visitor Experience and Protects Cayuga Lake Project Advances Upstate Revitalization Initiative’s “Southern Tier Soaring”
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the $1.9 million transformation of the overlook at Taughannock Falls State Park is complete and now welcoming the more than 560,000 annual visitors to the popular state park. Funded through the Governor’s NY Parks 2020 initiative and the Environmental Facility Corporation’s Green Innovation Grant Program, the series of major improvements at the overlook include new picnic areas, a three-season comfort and information station, native plant gardens and a redesigned parking area featuring a permeable parking surface that manages and filters stormwater runoff to better protect Cayuga Lake and the surrounding environment. The transformation of the park adds to the momentum of the Southern Tier Soaring initiative, the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate economic growth and community development with a $500 million investment from the state.
“New York’s parks are the gateway to some of the most striking natural beauty in the world,” Governor Cuomo said. “Ensuring that our state park system remains in pristine condition requires investment and continual enhancements, and this critical transformation at Taughannock Falls State Park will attract more visitors and inject additional tourism dollars into the Southern Tier economy.”
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “Promoting healthy, active outdoor recreation, connecting people to parks and sustaining and protecting the natural environment are all key goals of Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 initiative. The overlook transformation at Taughannock Falls State Park delivers superbly on all three of these vital responsibilities.”
In addition to the comfort and information station and other improvements, native plantings have been integrated into the redesign and focus on species found in or near the Park, including: meadow plantings with a wide diversity of grasses and flowers; shrubs such as spicebush, indigo bush, witch hazel and maple-leaf viburnum; and trees such as cucumber magnolia, chinquapin oak, pagoda dogwood, eastern red cedar and basswood.
Chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee Senator Tom O’Mara said, “Our region is proud to boast of one of the finest networks of parks and trails anywhere in New York State and across the nation. The official opening of the fantastic redesigned overlook and visitors center at Taughannock Falls State Park represents an exciting reintroduction to the Park and all of the natural and scenic attractions it offers hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. We’re grateful to Governor Cuomo and everyone at the State Office of Parks and Recreation for their commitment to enhancing Taughannock Falls State Park, the local environment, and all of our regional parks and trails.”
Senator Michael Nozzolio said, "The completion of this project will enhance the experience of visiting Taughannock Falls and attract tourists and visitors to our area, as well as local people who are rediscovering the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes region. My thanks to Governor Cuomo and special congratulations to Regional Director Fred Bonn and his staff for their efforts on this exciting new initiative."
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton said, “Taughannock Falls is one of the most iconic attractions in our area, and I couldn't be happier that the overlook has received this significant investment from the state. The new visitors center, informational signs, restrooms, and redesigned parking are a beautiful addition and will help to make this remarkable destination even more attractive to the public, ensuring that it will continued to be enjoyed by future generations of tourists and local residents alike. In Albany, I’m proud to fight for the funding for our state parks that make innovative projects like this one possible.”
Assemblyman Palmesano said, “Making infrastructure improvements to our aging State Park system is a critical and necessary part of providing tourists visiting our region and our residents of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Region with the best possible experience when visiting our State Parks. I thank Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Harvey for their commitment to ensuring the NY Parks 2020 is moving forward and I am pleased and excited about the improvements at Taughannock Falls State Park.”
Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor's 2016-17 Executive Budget allocates $90 million toward this initiative.
Situated as a destination along the longest running wine trail in New York, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, Taughannock Falls State Park is also home to campsites and cabins that overlook Cayuga Lake, a marina, boat launch, beach and multi-use trails perfect for non-stop enjoyment.
Taughannock Falls State Park’s namesake waterfall is one of the outstanding natural attractions in the Northeast. Taughannock Falls plunges 215 feet past rocky cliffs that tower nearly 400 feet above the gorge. Gorge and rim trails offer majestic views from above the falls and from below at the end of the gorge trail. Taughannock Falls also serves as main stop on the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit Bus-to-Nature line. The transportation initiative offers multiple rides per day during the summer to various state and local parks along Route 22.
Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring
“Southern Tier Soaring” is the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The state has already invested more than $3.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay for groundwork for the plan – attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation.
Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million state investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The state’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.
Green Innovation Grant Program
The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation’s Green Innovation Grant Program provided a $320,000 grant for the permeable pavement system designed to collect and filter stormwater. This method is reducing soil erosion and better managing pollutants that would typically enter Cayuga Lake from polluted runoff from a traditional paved surface. The Green Innovation Grant Program funds more than 100 green stormwater projects in New York State. More than $14 million is now available in new Green Innovation Grant Program grants and applications may be submitted through Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development initiative. More information on the program can be found at: http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/.
“EFC is pleased to have been able to participate in Taughannock Falls State Park Overlook’s beautiful transformation,” said Sabrina Ty, Environmental Facilities Corporation President and CEO. “This project exemplifies the Governor’s commitment to the environment by integrating sustainable, green infrastructure with improved access to the State’s most precious natural resources.”
In addition to offering modern rest conveniences, the three-season comfort station is also serving as a satellite visitor information center hosted by the Ithaca/Tompkins County and Convention Bureau, a program of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce. Regional tourism ambassadors, on duty seven days per week during peak season, are engaging travelers at one of the most heavily traveled and scenic spots in the Finger Lakes region.
“I am thrilled with our success in the first three weeks of operating the visitor’s center at the Overlook,” said Jennifer Tavares, President of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have had travelers from 44 of the 50 states and from 33 countries asking about where to eat, what else to see. Our staff is really helping them enjoy the Finger Lakes. Best of all, we know that when a tourist has a personal interaction with a visitor service specialist, they typically spend more during their trip, and are likely to stay longer."
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 65 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.